What is Childhood Myopia?

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Singapore is #1 in the world for the prevalence of childhood myopia in seven to nine year olds.1

Also known as short-sightedness, myopia is a condition where your child cannot clearly see objects that are far away. The objects at a distance seem blurry and unclear.

Causes:

Studies have shown that myopia is predominantly caused by genetics, in other words, the risk of a person developing myopia is higher if one or both parents have myopia.

The growth and development of myopia can occur at any age due to environmental factors according to many studies, including the most recent published by Johannes Gutenberg Universitaet Mainz, Germany in April 2016. Studies have also shown that too many constant hours of near work such as reading with poor lighting may also constitute to the development of myopia.

Can we prevent Myopia?

Since myopia is often inherited, it is not totally possible to prevent it. However, there are steps you can take to minimize its effect as per recommendations by Health Promotion Board. Ensure your child is examined early, especially if there is a family history of progressive myopia or other eye conditions. If you notice that the child displays discomfort to do work or watch television from a standard distance, your child may already be developing myopia and needs an eye examination.

Signs & symptoms:

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Eye rubbing

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Tearing

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Good Eye care habits:

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  1. Hold any reading material 30 cm away from the eyes
  2. Read while sitting upright rather than lying down
  3. Computer screens should be approximately 50 cm away from the eyes and adjusted to minimize reflection
  4. There should be a minimum distance of 2 metres between the television and the child’s seat
  5. Reading, watching television or using the computer is recommended to be done in a well illuminated room without glare
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  6. Advocate healthy habits for your children such as to take a break and rest the eyes after every 30 to 40 minutes of reading or watching television, by looking out of the window at far away objects
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  7. Encourage children to spend more time outdoors but do avoid 11am to 3pm where the sun is at its hottest

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Last but not least, ensure your children eat a well-balanced diet that include fruits and vegetables on top of a healthy lifestyle!